When Andrew Wong joined Clarity Medical Group in 2016, the company was still in its infancy. Andrew, with more than 20 years of experience in banking and finance, aimed to grow, leverage and reshuffle one of Hong Kong’s top ophthalmic firms.
Looking at the medical practices in Asia, Andrew says doctors or a group of doctors primarily run them. To him, from a strategic, operational and corporate governance point of view, this is not sustainable. “Doctors are very busy,” he says.
“It’s hard for them to focus more energy or time out of their professional work to manage, strategise the firm’s direction, build a better board and take more internal control and corporate governance. That’s what I do and have done for the past three years. When I joined, we had three doctors and were a small team doing many things in the ophthalmology sector.”
To leverage the company, Andrew hired more doctors and changed the focus. “We changed from ‘we do everything’ to a more refractive-focused practice,” he explains.
Andrew also spent time building the business development team. “We work closely with Facebook and Instagram, and a few popular third-party forums. We go and see what people say about us every day,” he says. “If there are complaints, then the business development team would answer questions or pamper unhappy eyes.”
For Andrew and the team, it’s essential to cater to today’s digital world. “Customers today not only need good surgery; they also need good service and a good experience,” he says.
Andrew believes that patients don’t just come to Clarity for treatment. “They come here for care and a total experience. They want to feel truly looked after and proud to come here,” he says.
“Every second I spend in this industry, I am helping and positively impacting the world. This makes me very happy.”
When patients are proud, they will also take photos. “They will share them with their friends through Facebook or their personal website,” he adds. This creates further exposure for Clarity.
A graduate of Harvard Business School and a candidate of the Doctor of Public Health program at Johns Hopkins University, Andrew explains that it took some time to find his footing in the medical sector.
“The biggest challenge was to understand the mentality in the medical sector. In today’s world, if you are willing to learn something, you can find almost everything online,” he points out. “I spent time understanding the basics and reading about the rationale behind why a doctor would recommend a certain surgery. It is also important to not only learn about the surgery but also the diseases and the basic equipment we use.”
Apart from the technical side of things, it was the people that ignited Andrew. “It’s about interacting with people, managing people, meeting people and influencing people. It’s how you build your relationships with your supplier, with customers and staff. It should be about serving people and curing people,” he says.
“We are a people business and people are the most important thing. You need to be able to run with them and spend time with them. Everyone has their problems. Everyone has their own view. Everyone has their own needs and their ups and downs, and they are facing different stages of their life. You have to find a way to listen.”
“We are a people business and people are the most important thing. You need to be able to run with them and spend time with them.”
Reflecting on his transition, Andrew says banking is mostly about markets, financing, investing and rearranging. “But when you come to medical service, it’s about people,” he notes. “It’s about care. It’s about curing people with the disease, or if they are in pain, effectively you are making a person who does not feel well have a much more fun life.”
That’s rewarding for Andrew. It’s been a stark contrast for him, coming from capital markets to the medical sector. “Every second I spend in this industry, I am helping and positively impacting the world. This makes me very happy,” he says. “I don’t know what will happen in the future. But to me, it’s something that keeps me motivated every day.”
The next step for Clarity is to expand its footprint into China. “In China, the competition among the ophthalmologist practices is fierce,” he says. “There are a few tough competitors there, but the consumer typology and spending power of our target customer groups is growing.
“We are thinking about expanding our business throughout Asia. Not the US, but in Asia, including Greater China,” he adds. “We are thinking to leverage on what we are good at, then to extend our footprint and presence across Asia.”